Health Effects

A key aspect of risk assessment involves the toxicological testing of pollutants and chemicals, to enable us to avoid unintended effects on human health. Humans are continuously exposed to environmental pollutants, particles and chemicals. Many of these compounds have been around for a long time, but their hazardous potential and the mechanisms that underlie their toxicity in general are still not fully understood.

The potential health impacts of climate change represent another challenge that also needs to be addressed. New technologies, such as nanotechnology, aim at improving our quality of life. However, it is very important to investigate the toxic potential of new substances in concert with their technological development. There is currently a large knowledge gap between nanotechnology and nanotoxicology.

NILU's Health Effects Laboratory

At NILU’s Health Effects Laboratory, we investigate the potential toxicity of environmental or engineered compounds using human and mammalian cell lines. The Health Effects Laboratory conducts research using in vitro toxicology, with a focus on genotoxicity and neurotoxicity. We also study the underlying mechanisms of toxicity, particularly oxidative stress, in relation to cancer and other diseases.

We test a wide range of compounds for potential toxicity, with a focus on environmental pollutants, particulate matter (PM), nanomaterials (NM), as well as the combination of conventional chemicals with NM. The laboratory is also investigating potential adverse effects from chemicals such as nitramines, which are a bi-product from amine-based Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

The Health Effects group participates in several national and international projects, by providing experimental support as well as acting as an expert group for emerging hazardous pollutants in relation to human health. The Health Effects group is particularly focused on building excellence and infrastructure in nanotoxicology, and is developing alternative test strategies for nanoparticles, in vitro as well as ex vivo.